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THE CONFERENCES
N. Brooks Clark
September 01, 1983
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September 01, 1983

The Conferences

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Last year, his first at Cal, Coach Joe Kapp took a team that finished 2-9 in 1981 and turned it into a 7-4 club. But he has lost most of his first-stringers on the offensive and defensive lines as well as his leading wide receivers and running backs. The Bears' best player is David Lewis, who caught 54 passes, the most ever by a Pac-10 tight end.

Washington State will be one-dimensional this season—eight defensive starters are back but the offense is very green. Oregon can't be any worse than it was in '82, when the team produced just 11 touchdowns, converted only eight of 22 field-goal attempts, scored more than 13 points in only one game and had just one healthy running back. Or could it? With a mere two first-stringers returning on defense and a quarterback who threw for only 393 yards last year, the Ducks should lay another egg in Eugene.

The situation is just as bad at Oregon State, where folks are fast losing patience with Coach Joe Avezzano, who has lost 30 of 33 games in his three seasons. Though the Beavers have brought in perhaps their best recruiting class in 15 years, they'll still edge Oregon once again for last place in the Pac-10.

PCAA

"I talked to a lot of coaches and decided my dad was smarter than all of them," says Fresno State Quarterback Kevin Sweeney. So Sweeney spurned offers from big-time schools and stayed at home to play for his father, Jim. Redshirted last season as a freshman, Kevin takes over in '83, but two Sweeneys may not be enough for the Bulldogs. Thirteen starters are gone, including Jeff Tedford, who threw for 2,993 yards last year, and Henry Ellard, who caught 62 passes and was the Rams' second-round draft pick.

Though San Jose State beat Stanford in 1982 for the second year in a row, the Spartans later suffered disappointing losses to Cal, Long Beach State and Fresno State. Coach Jack El-way has 22 J.C. transfers and 20 redshirts, and he'll need all of them. Replacing Cornerback Gill Byrd, a first-round choice of the Chargers, and Quarterback Steve Clarkson may prove to be a daunting task.

The team to beat in the PCAA is Long Beach State. After a 1-3 start in '82, the 49ers won their last four games. The reason: Quarterback Todd Dillon, who for the season threw for 3,517 yards and ran for another 70. His 3,587-yard total has been exceeded only once in NCAA history, by BYU's Jim McMahon, who accounted for 4,627 in 1980. Dillon's targets include five players who caught 20 or more passes last fall.

Utah State had a 5-2 record and an upset win over BYU to its credit when injuries struck; the Aggies lost their last four games. For '83 they have a new coach, Chris Pella, who was promoted from assistant after Bruce Snyder left to coach the Rams' running backs, and a new quarterback, BYU transfer Gym Kimball. Pacific also has a new coach, former Assistant Bob Cope, but otherwise the Tigers haven't changed much. Paul Berner, who threw for 2,586 yards last fall and Tight End Tony Camp, who had 48 catches, return, but the defense may be as porous as it was in '82, when the Tigers yielded 33 points a game.

The quarterbacks at both Nevada-Las Vegas and Cal State-Fullerton are brothers of former USC running backs. At Nevada-Las Vegas, junior Randall Cunningham (brother of Sam Bam) threw for 2,847 yards and punted for a 45.7-yard average in 1982. At Cal State-Fullerton, Damon Allen (brother of Marcus) became the starter after one quarterback quit the team to play baseball and another transferred to Iowa State because he didn't think the Titans—who've had nine losing seasons in a row—would ever win.

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